When I’m Seventy-Three: What John Lennon would look like today



DEVIN McKINNEY  •  Huffington Post today features John Lennon headlining a festival of dead pop stars as they might look today, in computer-aided speculations created by the Sachs Media Group in partnership with “photo restoration and manipulation company” Phoejoe.


I study John’s digitally aged image, looking for the flaw in the algorithm, the misjudgment of hairline or jowel nomenclature, and can’t find it. The others are pretty interesting as well.




And here’s the classic analog representation of all four Beatles “when I’m sixty-four,” commissioned for the multi-artist anthology The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics (1969), often used for tragicomic irony purposes in the weeks following John’s murder.


“Many years from now.”

Thanks to John Presnell for the original link.

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  1. Devin, you beat me to this–Dangerous Minds had some yesterday (Janis Joplin! Jimi Hendrix!).

    There is a HUGE flaw in this reconstruction: John was going bald, even at 40. He was already getting haircuts to hide his receding hairline (hence the DF-era bangs), and by 73, he would’ve been hairless on top, at least. The best to hope for was plugs, or some such. And remember what those were like in the 80s and 90s.

    But we, as fans, need John to embody certain things. The Chief Beatle, without hair? Impossible…but it was happening even in 1980.

  2. Avatar Karen wrote:

    John was going bald? I’ve studies his photos from late 1980 and never noticed a receding hairline.

    • That’s because his hairline was naturally high, and that Teddy Boy hairstyle combed your hair forward into bangs. If you look at pictures from the White Album period, you can see how high his forehead is, and how there’s already not a lot of body in his hair–it’s growing thinner, even at 28. In the 70s, whenever he’d comb it back, you could see receding at the temples as well, and this was at a very young age. John’s hair is, to me, why he seems much older in the 70s than in the Beatle days; it’s amazing to look at pictures of him from ’65 and then ’75 and think, “Only ten years!”

      Of course it’s possible that he would’ve made a valiant stand in his 40s and 50s–and had the best possible hair technology!–but given Freddie, Julian, and Sean, I think significant hairloss by age 73 was highly likely.

  3. Nancy Carr Nancy Carr wrote:

    Now that we can see what Ringo and Paul look like at 70+, I’m thankful neither is quite as jowly/puffy as in the “When I’m 64” rendering!

  4. Avatar hologram sam wrote:

    If Lennon was vain enough to comb his hair into bangs at the age of forty to cover his receding hairline, I’m certain he would eventually have had implants and would look much like the Huffington Post portrait today, hair dye and all. But I wonder if he had escaped the assassin’s bullet… would he have made it this far? Even on a macrobiotic diet, his risky behavior with cigarettes and Korean brothels might have put a stop to him.
    The only thing about the portrait is his choice of clothes. Does he share Dick Cavett’s tailor?
    And look at McCartney! The “When I’m 64” artist didn’t foresee Paul’s future vegetarianism. His 1969 rendering is of a beef-eating Paul.

    • Sam, I too have wondered how long John would’ve lasted under any circumstances. His appearance in 1980 was so gaunt that some have wondered if he didn’t have some condition we don’t know about; that was possible, he’d lived hard. But in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it was probably “just” an eating disorder…which could’ve been lethal for him, as it was for Karen Carpenter. But even assuming the happier state of affairs—that he was skinny at that time, but fundamentally nourished and would’ve evened out at some future point—it’s not absurd to think that the ciggies would’ve done to him what they did to George. He and Yoko may not have believed in “the Big C,” but the Big C might’ve believed in him.

      An equally big hurdle to quitting smoking—which he tried to do throughout the 70s, with no success—would’ve been fending off people interested in taking his money, and the psychological burden that would’ve been for him. Yoko, for all her eccentricies, seems to have no problem spotting hucksters and showing them the door; John lived on the other extreme. I’ve always felt he would’ve been a prime target for something like Scientology, not only for his money, but for the pulpit he would’ve provided. And we know that other groups had tried, even as early as 1966/67.

      The fascinating thing to me about Maharishi is—for all HIS eccentricies—he really didn’t take advantage of John or the others, financially. While I believe TM might’ve played a role in Lennon’s ’68 crackup, nothing suggests that Maharishi was soaking him, or anything less than sincere in what he was offering, and why.

      The Korean brothels, taken in moderation, were probably good for him. 😉

  5. Avatar J.R. Clark wrote:

    John Lennon, community college art instructor! Seriously, John would be a whole lot thinner, and I imagine him wearing the same kind of “eccentric grandpa” stage clothes that Paul and Ringo wear.

    When Paul was dating/married to/divorcing Heather Mills, I wished John had been alive to comment.

  6. Avatar J.R. Clark wrote:

    George Harrison always looks like a painting of a Byzantine Christ.

  7. Avatar Annie McNeil wrote:

    Agree that John would’ve likely gone bald. Which would have looked better than that haircut Huffpo gave him, anyway. Seriously, WTF is that?

  8. Avatar Karen wrote:

    True, John has a very high forehead–which is why I think his presumed encroaching baldness was really a function of said forehead + terrible eating habits. The first thing to go when you’re not receiving enough nourishment is hair and nails. Always tell-tale signs.

    I also think that John never would have made it to 70, given the trajectory he was on in 1980. Very sad.

    • Yeah, Karen, I had a chronic illness that affected my ability to eat properly, and the first sign of it was a thinning of my formerly very thick hair. Now that I am on the mend, my hair is thickening again. So I can attest to your hair-and-nails point.

  9. Avatar skippy wrote:

    What nonsense that John was bald. He certainly was not.
    He said he wasn’t and that is good enough for me.
    And that horror movie mockup is so gross.
    Those are not John’s beautiful eyes.

  10. Avatar hologram sam wrote:

    Skippy, if you look at photos of John from 1979/80, when he was vacationing with his hair pushed back into a ponytailed pomp, you can see how “incredibly high” his forehead was. If you look at photos of his dad, he had the same hair pattern. It’s not unreasonable to expect his hair to continue thinning through the rest of his middle age. John (like his friend Elton John) was vain about his hair, and most likely would not have tolerated being the bald beatle. He would have had plugs or implants. The artist who aged him most likely took inspiration from the last Dakota photos, after John’s haircut. Ringo and Paul both dye their hair, so it’s not beyond belief that John would have also turned to the bottle of youth.
    I agree, John had beautiful eyes. I’m haunted by the aged portrait. Look at “before” and “after” photos of people like Buster Keaton and Gloria Swanson to see how other beautiful folks aged.

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